Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

Standing In the Gate (Jeremiah 7, Matthew 21)

July 11, 2014

“Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord.”  Jeremiah 7:2

I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for Jeremiah to stand in the gate (the entry way from the court of the women into the inner court) and proclaim God’s message.  Here was God’s message:

1. Amend your ways, Vs: 2-7

God’s people were sinful in every way.  These people were corrupt in character, worship, and deeds.

2.  Actions were clearly seen, Vs: 8-15

Footnote:  Jeremiah was to preach to these people, but he was not to plead for these people.  Israel has already rejected every attempt by God to turn them around, Vs:21-29.  They were going back instead of going forward (Vs: 24).

3. The announcement of slaughter, 7:30-8:3

These people would be removed from their land.  The laughter in the streets would be no more.

Think it through:

What will happen to where you live if you do not stand in the gate and proclaim the message of the Lord?  Certainly I know that for some who read this, there is the immediate response, “Do you know how hard it is to stand in the gate in my city?”

I truly cannot understand every context.  There are people reading this blog from all corners of the world.  I believe the Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Be instant (stand at the gate) in season and out of season,”  II Ti. 4:2. Paul speaks of standing in the gate when it is popular and when it is not popular.

Your gate could be as a parent who faces children who are struggling.  Here God’s charge, “Stay at the gate, your children’s lives are at stake.”  Your gate could be your work place.  Here God’s charge, “You are the sole light at the gate.  They cannot see me apart from you.”  Still others are at the gate of the nations.  Here God’s charge, “This gospel must be proclaimed to the end of the world and the end will come.”

Our response:

I have made my choice, “I will stand at the gate.”  For the sake of the souls of men, I plead with you to stand at the gate!!!

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No Offense Intended (Matthew 13; Isaiah 65)

July 3, 2014

“And they took offense at Him.  But Jesus said to them..”  Matt. 13:57

My grandmother was a wonderful person who I almost idolized when I was a child.  As I grew older I discovered that even my grandmother had faults.  One of the those faults was in how she was extremely bold and blunt in sharing her opinions.  She was known for saying, “I am going to tell people the truth.  If they get mad, they will have to get over it.”  I have often wondered did she really mean to say, “No offense intended?”  After reflection, I think not!!!

When we come to Matthew 13, in our readings, we discover the sad reality of people who take offense at the loving teaching of Jesus (13:53-58). The chapter begins with Jesus teaching from a boat somewhere on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus teaches using a series of parables (8 to be exact).  As a reminder, a parable is simply a story that is used to illustrate often one point.  In this case the subject is the Kingdom of God and the great divide between those who will be citizens and those who think they will be citizens of the kingdom (I want to encourage you to read this chapter very carefully).

Think it through:

1.  The Kingdom of heaven is reserved for those who have received God’s Word.

These are clearly on the path of deliverance as depicted in these parables.  These are in good ground (Receive the Word).  They are producing fruit (Good soil). They are like a mustard seed (Growing in faith and connecting with others in His Church).  They are experiencing joy (seeing the value of the treasure of heaven).  They are ready of the harvest (At the end of the age they will be judged righteous)

2. The Kingdom of heaven is kept from those who have rejected God’s Word.

These people live as they were citizens (in their own mind) of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Such people never allow the Word to get into their hearts (hard ground).  Such people have a mistaken heart (Not root).  Such people have a misplaced faith (They never really saw the value of faith).

These people leave this world thinking they are citizens of the Kingdom (The enemy has deceived them).

These people will exist in eternal hell in pain because they never received the Word.

Our response:

Did you take offense at what you heard?  Some in the crowd did.  They were the ones who rejected the Word.  You and I must be of those who respond to the Word of God.

We also must be the ones who passionately teach others the Word of God.  Prayerfully seeking to see all come to Jesus!!!

Lastly, make sure, unlike my grandmother, that you share with a heart to see people saved.

Its Free (Isaiah 62; Matthew 10)

June 30, 2014

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received with paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8

It was an amazing thing to be a part of.  Even though I have seen it many times before, it is always so amazing.  Yes, two Sundays ago I watched as God opened the eyes of two sinners to their need of Salvation.  It was amazing to see both their brokenness (over their sin) and their blessing (in being cleansed from their sin).

I was also amazed in that God had allowed me to be His mouth peace in sharing the good news of the gospel which is free to all who come to Jesus.  This Jesus is the one who has paid the price for our sins so that we could come freely to Him (Isaiah 55:1).

This morning you and I are reminded of these truths as we read the account of Jesus sending out the disciples on their first assignment in the gospel.  Here is what we discover:

Think it through:

I.  They were to deliver a message.

What was this message, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Jesus has come to bring not the kingdom to this world, but to prepare people for the Kingdom that is to come.

II.  They were given details of their mission.

They were reminded that the gospel was free, Vs: 18, but the mission would be costly.  God promises that He would provide for their needs.  But He also reminds them that not everyone will come to the free gift of salvation.

III.  They were challenged to be faithful in the difficulties of the mission.

They would face unfair treatment.  But they were to remain faithful because in the end they would be victorious in the gospel.  “You who endure to the end will be saved.”  

Our response:

Brothers and sisters, our response must be of surrender to the call of the gospel.  We have received the gospel and now we must freely give ourselves away so that the gospel will freely go forth (Vs: 37-39).

Certainly this is not an easy assignment for us.  But God has promised to be for us and to go before us (Vs: 40-42).  God has promised a great reward to those who freely give themselves to the gospel.

I want to challenge you to freely give yourself to God.  When you do so, you will be free to do the work that brings the greatest results known to man, “Salvation by grace through faith.”

The Gospel’s power (Isaiah 55; Matthew 3)

June 23, 2014

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the things for which I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Here they were, 100 children that were coming to VBS for the very first time.  Our church was in many ways not ready for the extra 100 children that came last week.  But they came and our church did the one thing we knew to do, “We proclaimed the beauty and blessing of the gospel.”  In the end we saw the power of God as 30 children responded to the gospel.

Consider this fact, “The gospel never returns without results.”

Think it through:

This was an amazing fact that is communicated by Isaiah in chapter 55.  As you read this chapter you will once again be captured by the amazing prophetic understanding of Isaiah concerning the coming ministry of Jesus!!!  Isaiah once again looks ahead to Jesus ministry and shows us His wonderful covenant work.  Consider the following:

1.  God’s grace has always been free, Vs: 1-5

We are reminded that salvation is a gift that cannot be purchased with money.  Men strive to purchase things that do not satisfy.

2.  God’s grace always bears fruit, Vs: 6-11

God’s grace always reaches out to men and gives them the call, “To seek the Lord.”  Often men are confused about the call.  The Lord calls men in many different circumstances, but always the experience of grace comes in the same way.  Men are called to forsake their way and come to the Lord who will abundantly pardon.

Everyone who comes to Jesus, by grace, is changed by the Lord.

Our response:

The obvious response should be the same as the prophet Isaiah.  We must be giving the invitation for people to come to Jesus.  Here is the deal, “If we proclaim grace, people will be saved.”  If we practice grace, we will be changed.”

In the New Testament we see the struggle of so many of the Jewish people to understand this.  For example, in John 6 we see a great crowd following Jesus. John 6:27-35.  But at the end of the day, they did not want grace, they wanted something else.  God’s power to save was there, but men chose to follow a different path.  Today I pray that men and women the world over will come and accept the invitation of grace.  This is what I am going to give myself to in this day!!!

A light to the nations (Isaiah 49; Rev. 19)

June 17, 2014

“I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”  Isaiah 49:6

In a recent article my missionary partner Brother Ovi wrote and article entitled, “The word as 100 people.”  You can find the complete article at http://www.mission2malawi,com

Here is an exert from the article:

“In June the world’s population passed 7,238,000,000 people.  To better understand the world’s problems we reduce the 7 billion to just 100 people.  50 men and 50 women who ages range from the following: 26 were ages 0-14, 66 aged 15-64 and 8 were over 65.  33 were Christians, 22 muslims, 14 Hindu, 7 Buddhists, 12 other religions, and 12 atheist.  13 have no access to safe drinking water and 87 have access.  48 live on less than 2 Us dollars a day.  1 lives in hunger, 15 are malnourished and 63 eat properly.  More than three-quarters of the population live in spiritual darkness.  The question is: “What do we do now?”

This brief article challenged me to the very core of who I am as a follower of Christ.

In Isaiah 49 we are reminded of the two glorious comings of Jesus Christ.

I. Isaiah prophecies of the first coming of Jesus in Vs: 1-6

Jesus came and suffered rejection and suffered the ruin of the cross for the nations of the world

II.  Isaiah prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus in Vs: 6-26

One day the Redeemer of Israel will come and the nations of the world will bow before Him.  He will establish peace on the earth.  But until then He is building a place for us (Vs: 19-21).  Oh glorious day when the Lord returns.

Think it through:

We are living in a world of 7 billion people who are in between the first and Second Coming of Jesus.  The question that rings out is this, “What will we do now?”

Our response:

“Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you…” Isaiah 49:8.  

This verse is quoted by Paul in II Corinthians as his plea for people to come to Jesus in the now!!!

You and I must get the gospel to people now!!!  Each day hundreds die and face the wrath of God.  We cannot be idle and we cannot be about our wishes.  It is time that we realize God has called us to be a light to the nations.

 

One Last Call (Isaiah 49, Rev. 18)

June 16, 2014

“Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plaques,”  Rev. 18:4

I remember the moment so distinctly, “I was waiting in the airport for my connection flight.”  I was almost home.  As I sat there I found myself watching the people who were boarding the flight before me.  There were those who were anxious.  They were standing and waiting for the first opportunity to board the plane.  Still there were others who were comfortable waiting.  They knew the routine and they would respond when called.  However there was one person who seemed to not care about the boarding time.  They were so focused on going to the bar that they walked by the boarding gate and did not even hear the calls to board.  Finally the person got up and came to the gate.  But the gate had already closed.  They had been so locked into the moment of worldliness that they never heard the call.

As John records the account of the fall of the world system, it seems as if the people who are a part of the system are caught off guard at the last call.  Notice two things:

1.  In the last days the world system will be totally demonic controlled, Vs: 1-3

2.  In the last days the world system will be totally destroyed because of its corruption, Vs: 4-19

Think it through:

God is going to pay back the world for its daily rebellion, Vs:6.  God will humble a world that in its pride believes it is beyond the judgment of God.

John says this judgment happens in what seems be the span of one hour.  When this judgment comes the people will mourn and they will be at their wit’s end as what to do.

It was the same way with the guy at the gate.  He tried to make the attendant to open the gate.  But it was too late, the plane had left.

Revelation 18 helps us to see that there is coming a day when all that is wrong will be made right.  The question then comes, “What should be my response to all that I see?”

Our response:

We should rejoice for the day (Vs: 20).  Satan will be defeated.  The enemies of God will be destroyed!!!

We should reach out until the day (Vs: 21-23).  The people who are represented in these verses each have a soul that desperately needs the Lord.

I found myself ashamed at the airport because I remember thinking, “This guy got what he deserved because he ignored the calls.”  In that moment I was reminded of the grace of God in awakening my heart to His call.

“Lord, us me to be your mouth peace to give the call to all men to come to Jesus!”  

A message from an Angel (Isaiah 44, Rev. 14)

June 12, 2014

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”  Rev. 14:6

There are moments when messages seem to have more impact that at other times.  For example, “You receive a message that you have possibly won a 1000 dollars.  All you have to do is give the people your bank account number and they will transfer the money.”  Such messages, to those with wisdom, is quickly disregarded as fraud.  At other times the message has great impact.  For example, “You wife has gone into labor.  Come quick!”  Such a message, to those with wisdom, is quickly heeded.

This morning I read a message from an angel that needs to be quickly heeded.  Here is the message, “Fear God and give him glory, because the day of his judgment has come…”  

In this moment, I thought about both the seriousness and sorrow of this message:

The seriousness of this message is seen in the need of those who hear to respond to the everlasting Gospel before the day of wrath comes.

The sorrow of this message is seen in the verses that follow, Vs: 8-11, 14-20.  Here we see the masses of people who have given their allegiance to the God of this world. Such people are marked for the wrath of God.

Think it through:

The majority of the world is being taken in by the god of this world.  His message is of self, pleasure, and pride!  This message plunges people into eternal darkness.  Isaiah wrote of the plight of such people, “They do not know, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand,” Isaiah 44:18.

I wonder, “Could these people understand if an angel spoke to them?”

Answer, “Why should an angel have to cry out in our place?”  God has called each of us to proclaim the everlasting gospel with the world.

This week we are in VBS at FBC Jackson.  Many of the children have responded to the gospel.  One week earlier we were visiting in their neighborhoods.  It is to these people who the wrath of God is coming.  I thought of little boys and girls facing the eternal wrath of God.  I thought of men and women facing the wrath of God.

Finally I thought, “I must proclaim the everlasting gospel!”

Our response:

How does the message of the angel motivate you to respond?  Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Spend one afternoon a week engaging different neighborhoods with the gospel.

2.  Spend each morning training yourself in the Word of God so that you might be read with the message of the angel.

3.  Spend time each day praising God for the everlasting gospel coming to your life.

4.  Spend time once a week with your family in reflection concerning the everlasting gospel.

Heavenly Father, thank you for delivering to me the everlasting gospel.  Because of the gospel I have been delivered from the wrath to come!”

Less Than You Deserve (Job 11; Romans 15)

February 12, 2014

“Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves,”  Job 11:6

I once was given a wonderful gift from a group of people in whom I would speak at their lunch meeting about once a month.  The presenter of the gift said, “Receive this token of our thanks for all you have done.”  He went on to comment, “The gift is far less than you deserve.”  The kindness of this man and these people was far more than I deserved.  The fact is, “Every day of my life, I was and still am receiving more than I deserve as a follower of Christ.

In the book of Job we read of a viewpoint that is the flip-side of this truth.  Job has been lamenting the brokenness in his life.  Job is suffering as one who is innocently suffering for the glory of the Lord according to R.C. Sproul.

But here is chapter 11, one of his friends says just the opposite of this.  He believes Job is getting less than what he deserves.  This belief seems extremely harsh in the fact that this is one who knew Job very well.

Job’s friend believes Job is living in unrighteousness.  He believes the following:

1.  Job was trying to talk his way out of judgment, Vs: 1-5

2.  Job did not understand the depths of God’s judgment, Vs: 6-12

3.  Job needed to repent of his sin and seek to live in righteousness, Vs: 13-18

Here are words that cause me to tremble, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let no injustice dwell in your tents.”

Think it through:

How can any man put his sin far away from himself?  The truth is, we are all guilty of being sinners and we are receiving less than we deserve when God removes the sin debt by the payment of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:21).

Job’s friend believed that Job must establish his own righteousness, whereas God knows that our righteousness is established apart from our effort.  “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Jesus Christ, in order to be justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”  Gal. 2:16

I would agree with Job’s friend, “We are getting less than we deserve.”  But I would also agree with Paul, “we are getting far more than we deserve.”

Spend time praising him for what you have discovered today!!!

 

What Is Necessary (Nehemiah 5; Acts 15)

January 15, 2014

“But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”  Acts 15:6

I knew what was necessary.  I have a mechanically inclined mind.  I know what I am doing.  These strong statements characterized my mentality as I opened the box which contained a new gas grill that was waiting to be assembled.

Yes, you know the rest of the story.  I did well for about two-thirds of the project and then I hit a tough spot, so I decided to look at the directions.  Suddenly I realized I had wasted an hour of my life, because I would have to take the entire grill back apart and begin according to the directions.

Brothers and sisters, the Bible gives us clear directions concerning what is necessary for our salvation, “But we all believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

These words from Peter sum up what is necessary.  However, there was a great division of belief among those gathered in Jerusalem in Acts 15.  Notice how they arrived at the truth:

1.  There was a great debate.

It is good to come together and reason.  But we must reason according to God’s Word.  We must study and we must submit to His Word.

2.  There was a great decision.

The decision was made that all men are saved in the same way.  Men are saved through grace along by faith that will not be alone.

3.  There was a great delight among the people.

The people (Gentiles) were delighted to hear the truth.  They were also delighted to understand how they were to live now that they were Christ followers.

Think it through:

It is of eternal importance for you and I to settle the question, “What is necessary for salvation.”  Daily we encounter people from all walks of life with multitudes of different circumstances of life.  We must settle this issue for the sole reason of being able to share a clear gospel with those we meet.  We do not have many gospels with many ways to heaven.  There is one, Jesus Christ!!!

Follow Through:

Spend time walking through the Word of God so that you can be reminded of this gospel.  Spend time-sharing this gospel with those you meet today, so that in the end you have not wasted hours, days, and months, living and doing things that have no eternal value.

From Bad To Worse (II Kings 13; II Timothy 3)

October 31, 2013

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,”  II Timothy 3:12-13

October 31 has always been a dreaded day in my yearly calendar.  In America our nation celebrates this day as “Halloween.”  Many people enjoy this day as the highlight of their year.  Still many more people enjoy the fun of dress-up and scaring others.

However, for me this day is a reminder of what Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:13, “Things will go from bad to worse.”

Think it through:

1.  Each year we see the continual moral decline of our nation and our world.  II Timothy 3:1-5

2.  Each year we see the continual increase of persecution of those who are genuine believers. II Timothy 3:10-13

What should our response be?

1.  Paul directs us to avoid those who are in decline.  This translates for me into avoiding such days as Halloween.  My family has chosen to make this evening a time of fellowship away from this celebration.  We always go out together for the evening.  We have a nice meal and we spend time talking about how we can make a difference in the world.

2.  Paul directs us to follow the path laid out in the Word of God.  This translates for me into a lifestyle that is focused on knowing and obeying the Word of God.  On this day our family will focus on God’s Word for our response to the evil in the world.  We know, only the gospel will bring light to a dark world.

Yes we know that things are going from bad to worse.  However, the gospel is preparing is for another world were righteousness and truth rule the day.